Riding to Lose: Paul Prosser is Making it Happen

Talk about Making it Happen, Paul Prosser writes about how riding his bike and a healthy diet enabled him to lose 35 pounds (along with his belly and excess fat), to get to a healthy 22.1 BMI.

Riding to Lose

by Paul Prosser

In February, after an adult conversation with my wife Susan, I started thinking real hard about my body and how I viewed it.  My 55th birthday was approaching fast and I was thinking, “An over-burdened 6’-1” frame with an ample and sagging front porch is not the architecture of longevity.”

So I took stock.  Emotional eating is my number one problem.  I eat when I’m happy, stressed, depressed or angry.  Every emotion had a food as a compliment or comfort.  Portion control was my second big issue.  Too much of a good thing quickly becomes a bad thing.  Number three was too many fatty and carb-heavy foods, two few fruits and vegetables.  Number four was eating too fast for my body to recognize it was full.

Somewhere I read that savoring every bite of food, letting it linger in your mouth as you chew it slowly, helps your body send the appropriate “fullness” signals to your brain.  So I tried that and the additional suggestion that you should think about the source of the food, the people who helped produce or cook it while savoring.  I know this sounds crazy but thinking about the people and the process led me to appreciate the fact that, unlike many, I wasn’t risking hunger every day.  Savoring and appreciating food made eating much more enjoyable.

Calmness slowly became the emotion I associated with food because I was full with less food and, I took the time to enjoy it.  And, I decided that if food was in my mouth longer, it had better be flavorful and healthy.  Since Susan and I are pretty handy in the kitchen, we started spending more time cooking and less time eating out.

Net result: healthy, tasty food + smaller portions + emotional control = more enjoyment and fewer calories per day.  Bonus: more time cooking with Susan.

A friend of mine was asked “ How did you lose that weight?” He replied, “Move more, eat less.”  For me, the “eat less” part of the saying was addressed by savoring, the “move more” part of it is bike related.

Riding my bike is a mental health issue for me.  If I don’t ride I become mentally unstable (cranky old man unstable, not “stabby” unstable).  My wife prefers the non-cranky me.  So when I ride it’s a win-win for us.

Riding with the purpose of losing weight and increasing mental well-being changed the way I approach cycling.  My riding before was confined to three or four rides a week of dubious quality.  Two of those were 20-mile long weekday rides, one was a 40-50 mile Saturday ride and Sunday I “might” ride 25-30 miles if I felt like it.  Most Sundays I didn’t.  That added up to 90 to 120 miles a week, a lot of it at an easier pace and no real purpose but the delivery of endorphins to my brain.

February’s epiphany got me thinking, I didn’t want to just ride a lot and feel worn down all the time.  I wanted to be strong AND fit.  So in about three months time I slowly worked my way up to a 160 to 170 mile per week schedule.

This is the schedule now.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, I ride 20 flat miles at a 120-130 BPM average heart rate.  Wednesdays I ride 30 flat miles at a 135-140 BPM average heart rate.  Saturday is my long ride, 55-60 miles with some hills back at a 135 BPM average heart rate.  Sunday is a 35-40 mile ride at a 130 BPM average heart rate with a little less hill work.

In each of those rides I try to hit the 150-160 BPM range in random intervals.  For 3-5 minutes I’ll go hard on hills or long straits (tailwinds make them more fun).  Sometimes it really hurts, other times I’m killin’ it.

Every day, I stretch post-ride and do some yoga moves for about a half hour.  Monday and Friday, I stretch and do core exercises for about an hour.  Most of the yoga and core work was taken from Bicycling Magazine’s web site.

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